Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 5 p.m.
Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 8:10 p.m.
Fresno State 95, UNLV 82
For the second straight season, UNLV ends the year with an 18-15 record and an exit in the Mountain West tournament quarterfinals. The Rebels trailed Fresno State the entire way, and despite keeping it close for awhile they ran out of gas in a ??-?? loss at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Stephen Zimmerman Jr. scored 13 points in the first eight minutes, and then foul trouble and Fresno State's defensive schemes held him quiet until fouling out late in the game. Pat McCaw (28 points on 17 shots) and Jerome Seagears (17 points, 11 assists) were again solid, but each of them air-balled 3-point attempts in the final minutes as the effects of yesterday's triple-overtime game started to show.
Fresno State scored 25 off UNLV's 14 turnovers and the Bulldogs shot 49.3 percent overall, consistently finding Harris and Lewis on the wing and then Carter down in the post. Four Bulldogs scored in double figures.
This ends one of the most tumultuous seasons in UNLV history, and there's a lot to be figured out before we know what next year is going to look like. There's a coach to be hired and, either based on that or not, at least a half dozen players with decisions to make. Ho many will be at UNLV next year? It's impossible to say, and determining that — plus, obviously, who the coach will be — will determine what to expect next season.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' defeat.
Let’s start with the head count, because as UNLV prepares for today’s quarterfinal at 6 p.m. against Fresno State in the Thomas & Mack Center, it’s important first to know whom the Rebels even have at their disposal.
Yesterday’s game started with six scholarship players, and that’s likely the same number UNLV will have again today, with a couple of caveats. The first is that senior guard Jerome Seagears, who played 54 minutes of the 108-102 triple-overtime victory against Air Force, was going to get a cortisone shot in his injured heel, and how well he responds to that could determine how much he’s able to play tonight.
And then there’s the uncertain status of sophomore forward Dwayne Morgan, who has been out since suffering a separated shoulder during morning shootaround on Feb. 20. He’s doubtful to return today, but we won’t know that officially until the team comes out for warmups.
And while fatigue is an obvious concern for a depleted roster that just played a triple-overtime game, at least freshman Stephen Zimmerman Jr. fouled out so quickly (two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes) that he should be plenty fresh. Also, freshman Jalen Poyser fouled out after 25 minutes, which should be much easier to bounce back from than the 40-plus put in by Pat McCaw, Ike Nwamu, Jordan Cornish and Seagears.
Even if the Rebels are exhausted, they’ve been dealing with some version of that for weeks as the roster has dwindled over the past few weeks. So while no one should be surprised if UNLV comes out really gassed, it also shouldn’t shock anyone to see the Rebels rally and fight til the end just like they’ve done in most of these games.
Prediction: UNLV lost its first meeting with Fresno State after giving up a key offensive rebound, and then went to double overtime in the rematch after battling back from a big deficit. This has been a hard matchup for the Rebels for years, but it’s almost always close. Fresno State 74, UNLV 72